Hi Susan, can you describe for us what an “ideal” editor does?
An ideal editor is one who forms a bond and a level of trust with the writer, enabling the writer to have the confidence to hand over his/her precious words—to an absolute stranger! That trust is built through prompt, friendly communication. Writers have lots of questions about editing, and an ideal editor will be there daily to answer those questions, even before the edit begins. Then comes the edit itself, and if the bond has been formed, it will be a positive, rewarding, and successful experience for both writer and editor and will hopefully lead to a long working relationship and friendship between the two parties.
What constitutes a successful edit?
Great question! I feel an edit is a success if the writer is satisfied with the end product. The icing on the cake, however, is when the writer sends me a second editing job—a sequel, perhaps—and I can see that my instruction and suggestions have been taken to heart and incorporated in the next manuscript. Then I know I did my job!
What is the editor’s relationship to the writer?
It’s very important for the editor and the writer to become a team in order for the edit to be successful. As an editor, however, I accept the fact that I’m not the captain of the team. I’m not the one who wrote the words or spent hours enveloped in the creative process. The editor begins with a secondary role and then works to build that trust with the writer that will eventually level the playing field a bit.
Writers come to you at different stages in their career, with different talents, writing in different genres, and so on. Do you have to customize your editing for each writer?
I edit in the same manner for each writer, regardless of writing skill level or genre. I use MS Word Track Changes to allow the writer to accept or reject my suggestions. Writers who have come to know and trust me often ask me to make the changes directly to their manuscript, saving them precious time as they head toward publication. All edits are customized according to the type of edit the writer requests—whether it’s a basic proofread, a line edit, a developmental edit, or a combination of these.
Self-publishing has exploded in the last few years. Has this resulted in an increase of writers reaching out to you?
Absolutely! Anyone can be a “published author” today, thanks to the availability and ease of self-publishing. I’ve done free edits for many people who think they can just put words on paper and someone will buy their book. Sadly, many people are putting their writing out there without going through the painstaking (and expensive!) process of editing. It’s those people who have given self-publishing a bad name.
I think I’ve veered from your question; obviously this topic is one about which I have much to say!
But yes, I have seen an increase in the number of writers seeking editing, thanks in large part to the availability of self-publishing.
You were an educator for 29 years. Do you see editing as an extension of what you did as an educator?
Yes, I do! As an editor I’m still an educator and see the writer as my student, to some extent. My job is not only to make the words shine and the sentences flow more smoothly, but to actually teach the writer how to make this happen on their own. My edits contain lots of tips and suggestions that, if incorporated, will result in the writer being much better at his/her craft. Once a teacher, always a teacher.
You offer a free edit to writers so they can see what you offer. Has this been an effective marketing technique for you?
Offering the free edit was by far the smartest thing I did when getting started as an independent editor. I didn’t really see it as a marketing tool at first, though. My original focus was on finding a way to gauge a writer’s ability level before offering a quote for services. The free edit was perfect for that. But then I began to notice that this free edit was drawing writers to me—writers who wanted to see what I could do for them. So the free edit turned into a win-win for both writer and editor. I get a good look at the writer’s skill level, enabling me to determine how long an edit will take and offer a fair quote for my services, and the writer gets to see firsthand what a professional editor can do for them. It’s my chance to shine, to strut my stuff! If I can impress a writer through that free edit, I’ve got one foot in the door!
After all the editing you do, do you still feel like reading for pleasure?
Reading is my favorite pastime. I still try to save time for pleasure reading every evening, and it’s nice to be able to just enjoy a good story without trying to pinpoint errors and “fix” things. I do notice mistakes though, even when reading for pleasure. It can put a damper on things if I let it, but I try not to do that.
You have a new web site going up. When does that go live and why did you redesign it?
I’m actually going to be doing some revamping of the old site, at the suggestion of my wonderful tech guy. I’m not sure exactly what he has in mind, but I know it will be wonderful. I recently had a new PR photo taken to replace the one of me in the rocking chair. While I am a proud grandma, I certainly don’t need to look like one! I also have some new testimonials and links that need to be added, so we’ll be doing some basic updating. I expect it will be all polished and up by late next week.
Lastly, how can writers get in touch with you?
I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also can be found on Twitter, promoting my clients and marketing my business @hughesedits4u.
I encourage all writers who would like more information about me and my services to visit my website at www.myindependenteditor.com . To take advantage of my free edit, 1000 words can be submitted directly from the website, using the link provided there.
In conclusion, I want to thank you for conducting this interview with me and giving me the opportunity to share a little bit about myself with your readers. I’m honored to have been asked to do so.
Disclosure from FindMy Audience: We are, of course, biased in Susan’s favor, as one of our colleagues, Mark, had his work edited by Susan, and is encouraging the rest of us to do likewise!